SBD/26/Franchises

AU REVOIR, AU REVOIR, LIFE GOES ON: QUEBEC DEALS WITH LOSS

     In Quebec City, only "a handful" of fans protested outside
of the hotel where the deal was announced.  Most blamed the
failure of the team on team President Marcel Aubut rather than
Quebec Premier Jacques Parizeau, who refused to give in to
demands for a new arena (CP/Hamilton SPECTATOR).  Parizeau was
clearly angry about the move.  As he left a meeting yesterday, he
"snapped": "I have more important things to deal with than Mr.
Aubut's every little twitch" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/26).  Meanwhile,
writers across Canada mourned the loss of the team and its
tradition:     GLOBE & MAIL:  Christie, Shoalts & Seguin notes
"the new realities of the hockey industry":  "Quebec City has the
lowest family income of any city with an NHL franchise and
operates in the smallest urban area of any team in the league
with the smallest number of head offices. ... Only Quebec's
passion for hockey -- and perhaps Aubut's ego -- were large
enough for the [NHL]" (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/26).
     TORONTO SUN:  Al Strachan writes the Nordiques had become "a
means of maximizing returns for an integrated corporate
structure."  But George Cross blames apathy: "Fans in Winnipeg
rallied around the team when it appeared it was heading for
Minnesota.  The sale of the Nordiques hardly resulted in a
whimper" (TORONTO SUN, 5/26).
     OTTAWA CITIZEN:  Anne McIlroy calls allowing the Nords to
leave "one of the few things Premier Jacques Parizeau has done
right lately" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 5/26).
     Hamilton SPECTATOR:  John Kernaghan bashes corporate
ownership:  "That, in sum, is hockey now.  It's marketing
strategies and corporate alliances, not guts, glory and passion"
(Hamilton SPECTATOR, 5/26).
     U.S. REAX:  In L.A., Helene Elliott examines the NHL's
weaker franchises, while also noting the league's expansion
plans.  Elliott asks: "By [2000] ... will the economic pinch have
endangered the league's medium-sized markets, which are the NHL's
backbone?" (L.A. TIMES, 5/26).  In Philadelphia, Flyers President
Bobby Clarke criticized club owners in general "who are too
committed to making money."  Clarke: "It's become blackmail.
They say, 'Build me a building.  Pay for my losses or I'm
leaving.'  I think the business is still screwed up" (Gary Miles,
PHILADELPHIA ENQUIRER, 5/26).
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